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The New York City Opera’s entire season is in jeopardy if it cannot raise $7 million by the end of the month and $20 million by the end of the year, the company said on Sunday.
The opera company has been in financial straights for over two years, notes the Wall Street Journal. While they were able to bring themselves out of a financial crisis in 2011, the fixes - leaving Lincoln Center, trimming the budget and picking less production - turned out to only do the job temporarily. Issues cropped up again as backers decided not to donate over the summer, just weeks before the Sept. 17 premiere of Anna Nicole.
“We've been living hand-to-mouth for a number of years,” George Steel, its general manager and artistic director, said in a statement. "Being too small is crippling for the company."
Anna Nicole, based on the life on Anna Nicole Smith, is a co-production with the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The City Opera only had to put forth $1.3 million in its share. While it was able to put the money up for a short run at BAM, that money has already run out.
Its immediate goal is $7 million by Sept. 30. They have set up a Kickstarter to raise $1 million, but with 21 days to go, it has garnered jsut 209 backers who have pledged $13,700.
According to The New York Times, if it cannot reach that goal, productions of Bluebeard’s Castle, Marriage of Figaro and Endimione will be cancelled.
Steel added that the entire 2013-2014 season will be cancelled if it can’t raise another $13 million by the end of the year.
“You can’t run the opera on a hope and a prayer,” company chairman Charles R. Wall told the NY Times. “You’ve got to pay bills. And you’ve got to raise the money to pay them. That’s the simplest way I can put it. And you cannot spend what you do not have.”
Gail Kruvand, who leads the opera’s union committee, is calling for Steel to step down. “George Steel has had 2½ years of leading the City Opera in this direction, out of Lincoln Center, and clearly this hasn't worked,” she told the WSJ. "It's time for him to step down and the board to search immediately for his successor."